Monday, May 19, 2008

Math Talk for Speech to Text Calculations

Math Talk is a software that interfaces with Dragon Naturally Speaking to give the user speech to text (or in this case, numbers) access to math calculations. The cost is $300. You also have to have Dragon which cost $99 for standard and $199 for preferred versions. The Math Talk site shows Dragon Preferred in a bundle, so I am assuming you need the preferred software to run Math Talk.
I have some high school students that could use this software. But because it hinges on using Dragon Naturally Speaking, there are some challenges you need to be aware of. One issue I have with speech to text software is the diction issue with students. Unless the student is speaking clearly, spelling errors will show up. Students have to learn how to use the basic commands to tell the software what to do when adding punctuation, deleting, using numbers, etc. The software will learn the speaker's voice and unique way of talking, but this often means training the software by selecting a mis-spelled word and spelling or choosing the correct word from a list and assigning it to use that choice next time. If you have a student that is fairly on the ball cognitively and has a clear speaking voice, Dragon Naturally Speaking might be the ticket.
With Math Talk, you can use Math Pad to build a problem in a problem list window by speaking and then the problem shows up on the screen to work through a worksheet. After you build a worksheet, students can see the problems, talk out the answer and then go to the next problem in the problem list automatically.
To see demo videos of sample problems in different levels of math, go to their video link here.
Math Talk is an exciting application for hands free calculation. For those with orthopedic impairments and disabilities this could be a great tool. It would be an important tool for students in the college arena as well.
Math Talk is working on a visually impaired application that will convert math problems and calculations into braille and open in a Duxbury file. It is not out yet, but you can view or listen to a sample video that gives you an idea of how it will work. I am not a vision specialist and JAWS, Duxbury, Braillenote, etc. are familiar to me only with some brief work with a handful of students. Someone like Ron Graham at AccessAbility, could give us a better review of how Math Talk's braille conversion could support folks with visual disabilities. I will have to ask him to give us some help on this from his perspective. Go to his site for great visual impairement tips and ideas.

I think it is helpful to have a knowledge of math technologies that can bring new accessibility support. Go to the Math Talk website, watch some of the video demos and see what you think.

All the best to you!


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